Warning: a dark and disturbing tale which some people might find very upsetting or triggering.
I felt the AK47 digging into my back. I didn’t need to know the local lingo to understand. I was a prisoner, thankfully eyes blindfolded – the dizzying trail of rickety wooden steps gave me vertigo. I wanted to stop and retch, but my captors were relentless. They laughed as they gagged my mouth. March. Scorching sun; thin mountain air. No food or water for . . . how long was it now? Night was somewhat cooler; different insects attacked.
One or was it two, had groped me; hands brusquely down my pants, or rubbing my nipples. Stink of sweat and cheap wine as he pulled away the gag, and dove his tongue deep into my mouth. More gagging; only seemed to arouse him more. He pressed himself against me; hard and violent. I don’t know why I wasn’t violated more. Perhaps I was worth more if I was not ripped and bloody.
The sun slashed my eyes when the blindfold was removed. We had reached the seat of their terrorist government. I was pushed down onto my knees, a revolver held to my head. Click. Click. Russian roulette. Their leader, educated in Europe and America, carefully explained: “You are a political prisoner; an enemy of the revolutionary state. Your fascist, reactionary masters, should they pay enough, might see you again.”
I was bombarded with propaganda; attempts to indoctrinate me. Internally, I resisted. Outwardly, I did what was necessary to survive. I let the leader take me as a lover; a conquest he crowed about. I held onto my faith; my beliefs. He was cruel, ruthless. But not a sadist or psychopath. Much to my surprise. He even was sometimes almost tender in his taking of me.
I wasn’t the only prisoner. But we were kept apart – different encampments – incase we might communicate with each other. My fear was that my value as money and arms for the cause might be superseded the supreme commander’s taking of me as his lover. But, rocket launchers and American dollars won out.
I was marched, blindfolded for a time, back along the wooden steps. This time, food and water were offered. Clean clothes and opportunities to bath. I was a commodity that needed to look respectable and human. I sensed other political prisoners; revolutionary pawns were being taken back towards civilization. The exchange – revolutionaries tried and sentenced to death, money in briefcases like those heist movies, and a cache of arms equal to any Rambo or villain’s trove in a super hero movie, seemed far too weighted towards the terrorists.
The strange juxtaposition of us eight and news outlets, government debriefers. Our reality for these many months truly incomprehensible to others. No, I wasn’t Patty Hearst – no Stockholm syndrome. I despised my captors; what they stood for; what they sought. So much for my calling to missionary work. So much for turning the other cheek. No forgiveness. I knew I was going back to those wooden steps on the mountain. I was the enemy of the revolutionary cause; I knew “when I have a rocket launcher, some son of a bitch will die.” (paraphrase of the final verse, Bruce Cockburn, “If I Had a Rocket Launcher,” on Stealing Fire, 1984.)
for mlmm photochallenge: #385; image: Mark Payton
From Wikipedia: “The song was inspired by Cockburn’s visit, sponsored by Oxfam, to Guatemalan refugee camps in Mexico following the counterinsurgency campaign of dictator Efraín Ríos Montt. Although Cockburn had occasionally touched on political themes in his earlier songs, “If I Had a Rocket Launcher” was his first explicitly political song to be released as a single, and earned him a new reputation as an outspoken musical activist.”
Controversial then and now, as it meets violence with violence. I can understand why he wrote it. There are many times, I sure wish I had a rocket launcher, so some SOBs will pay for their crimes against humanity.
And to retaliate for the disappeared in Central America and elsewhere; the thousands of missing indigenous and women of colour; the millions/billions of exploited children; and global attempts to strip women of their rights.